Gruntworks History Op/Ed

Leadership – Taking A Backseat?


1-1. Leadership is the process of influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to accomplish the mission and improve the organization. As an element of combat power, leadership unifies the other elements of combat power (information, mission command, movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment and protection). Confident, competent, and informed leadership intensifies the effectiveness of the other elements of combat power.” ADRP 6-22

“The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Ronald Reagan

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” William Arthur Ward


Good evening, grunts.

As you all recently read, I am not a fan of the idea of the Expert Action Badge (E.A.B.). I think it is a slap in the face to those who earned the Expert Infantryman Badge (E.I.B.).

I come to you today, ever so humble, to give a prime example on what we, as members of the military, should be focused.

In recent weeks, trial runs of what the powers that be will be giving as criteria for the E.A.B. have been going on. As always, Fort Hood is one of the top places they went to. I was reading an article from the Army Times and one thing stood out to me. “…it became apparent that some of the Soldiers did not know how to properly don their protective masks.”

Is anybody paying attention? Is this not a clear-cut problem with leadership? Are leaders in the military not properly training their subordinates?Product Block - Frosty

Coming up through the ranks, I was given a task. If I was unable to complete that task, I was shown how to do it and then told to complete it again. Regardless of when the final formation of the day was, I was not released to go home until I was proficient in that task. Each day, my Section Chief (Squad Leader) would give us one task to help better us as Soldiers and Artillerymen. Each day we had to complete the task given before we could go home. Has training a Soldier become a lost art? It was never really an art but has the will, drive, and motivation to train and lead become lost among leaders?

How can someone call themselves a leader and go home some days leaving their troops untrained? I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I did not complete my task of the day. Training Soldiers on the fundamentals of being in the military is key. They will one day take our place in the positions we hold. I fully believe that a lack of real leadership is the reason a lot of the really great Soldiers exit the military.

Leaders, we must get on top of this. We need to train and mold these troops. There may be a future SMA in your ranks one day and because YOU didn’t train him or her properly to be a better Soldier and proficient in his or her MOS, they will exit the Army because they didn’t find the structure they needed.

The biggest issue I see with real leadership diminishing in our ranks is that the Army and I assume (as I’m only in one branch of service) the military as a whole, is that we are now pushing everything to the digital side instead of actual hands-on training. I can’t tell you how many times I will walk into work and have a note saying specific Soldiers need to complete so much online training.

We spend so much time pushing correspondence courses, SSD, and JKO courses on these guys that we don’t actually teach them anything anymore. Now, I say “we” as a generalization. I don’t mean as a whole. There are so many great leaders in this military and they are doing great things; however, there are also so many great leaders who are leaving as well. These problems start at the top. We need to get the highest echelon on board to get rid of this digital nonsense and get back to using our hands.

Leadership 2Ninety percent of these Soldiers won’t get the hands on training they deserve and that they need from the leadership they have because every other day they are at the library cranking out online training. I’m not against online training completely. There are good things out there. The issue is when they don’t help the Soldier. I say that because I’m a realist. Realistically, PFC Joe Snuffy won’t sit there and read everything that comes up on the screen for a correspondence course. You know what he will do? Find the one that doesn’t have a test but counts for hours, skip through each slide, submit an assessment with all ‘neutral’ ratings and get credit for 65 correspondence hours.

Leaders need to step it up and get off of their behinds. Get back down in the motor pool. Grab those troops and head to a field. Leave the cell phones in the rear. Grab a compass, grab a pro-mask, grab a map, protractors, pencils, and teach them how to use a pro-mask. Teach them how to read a map, plot points, and make them find their way back to the company/battery/troop area. Capitalize on the fact you have more than one leader in your squad/section and break into teams. Why do this? If they have trouble with the tasks given, you have a leader who is there to help when they need it but not do it for them. Teach, coach, mentor these young troops to be better. Help them become adults in the military and not just in the civilian world. Show these men and women how to be Soldiers. Don’t give their name up for a trial run without going over the basics with them.

The fact this incident ended up in the papers is a direct reflection on that Soldier’s leadership chain. That leader should be taken out to the woodpile. I’d be embarrassed.

So, leaders, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to carry on as you have been? Or will you grab that map and start teaching?

You were promoted for a reason. Show us that you earned those chevrons.


Active Duty Army Artilleryman; avid Clash of Clans player; husband who thoroughly disgruntled his wife; creator/host of The Ball Pit on Facebook and YouTube; blog writer for Gruntworks; Twitter - @theball_pit; Instagram - @theballpit1; Facebook - @theballpit1; YouTube - Subscribe to the channel, like and follow on all the social media platforms above, and check out all of my blogs found here, and at Gruntworks!

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